The Supreme Court’s stay on implementation of the contentious farm laws is a “resounding moral defeat of the BJP government”, Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal tweeted Tuesday night, hours after the court expressed concern over “lives and property of people affected” and criticised the centre for its apparent inability to resolve an agitation that has rumbled on for several weeks.
However, Mr Badal also red-flagged the setting up of a committee of agricultural experts – all of whom have publicly backed the farm laws – to negotiate an amicable solution. The farmers were equally critical, saying “these members have been justifying the laws”.
“Today’s Supreme Court order on farmers’ issue is a resounding moral defeat of BJP government at the centre… (but) the committee formed by Supreme Court, comprising supporters of anti-farmer laws is a joke and unacceptable,” Mr Badal tweeted.
The Akali Dal leader also expressed “grave concerns over reports the government is pushing mercenaries among agitating farmers to incite violence and defame the honourable struggle” and said the “Akali Dal objects to government allegations that Khalistani elements have infiltrated the protest”.
On Tuesday morning the Supreme Court put implementation of the three farm laws on hold “until further notice”. Chief Justice SA Bobde hoped the “extraordinary order of stay” would persuade agitating farmers across the country to stand down “at least for the present”.
The court also set up a committee, whose members it named, to take over the negotiations.
The court was also told “Khalistanis” had infiltrated the protests; the reference emerged after a farmer group in favour of the laws claimed banned organisations had entered the protests.
BJP leaders have made similar allegations, besides including the “tukde tukde gang” in the list of forces subverting the protest. Mr Badal accused the BJP of being “the real tukde tukde gang”.
Mr Badal also hailed the court’s order as “vindicating the Akali Dal’s stand”, referring to his party walking out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in protest over the farm laws. The party also withdrew its representative from the union cabinet – Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
“Supreme Court order vindicates Akal Dal stand, as it had not only voted against the bills, but also it quit its long standing alliance with BJP. Harsimrat Badal promptly resigned and Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal returned his Padma Vibhushan in protest,” he said.
Mr Badal said the Akali Dal would “participate in any peaceful, civilised and democratic line of protest which farmer organisations decide to pursue to get anti-farmer laws revoked”.
Protests against the laws – which the centre says will benefit farmers by allowing them to sell produce at markets and prices of their choice – have made headlines since late November, when thousands of farmers fought past police action to set up camp around Delhi.
Eight rounds of talks have been held so far, with neither side willing to budge.
The farmers want the laws scrapped and a legal guarantee for MSP, while the centre has offered a written guarantee for MSP but says the laws will remain.